Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4, 2015 - Here Be Dragons


On the old maps in the borderlands, in unknown territory, in untraveled areas, and on the uncharted seas, something had to be written.  So the old mapmakers said, “Here be dragons.”  Thereupon mystic beasts were drawn, terrible dragons, devouring seamonsters, and all manner of mythical creatures.  And somehow this brought them to life.  One can argue whether or not they were real before the mapmaker performed his magic, but afterward, there is no doubt.  Many an ancient sea captain reported seeing dragons in those very areas about which the mapmaker cautioned.

An uncharted land.

It’s the regions that reach onward and outward where the end cannot be seen, cannot be found.  It’s the areas that go on and on with never an end in sight, never a familiar marker to be found.  It’s the vast expanses that make us feel as tiny as an ant, that tower over everything.  The mind cannot think of nothing.  It must think of something, even if it calls the something “nothing.”  Nothing is still something, and so we must define it.

The mapmaker is free to imagine whatever he wants in those unknown areas.  Perhaps it’s the end of the Earth, where a ship sails and falls right off into the netherworld.  Perhaps it’s a land inhabited by gods and Titans, separated by a stone wall forty feet high.  Perhaps it’s more subtle, like another realm superimposed upon our own realm, separated only by a misty curtain through which only the knowledgeable and skilled traveler may pass.  The mapmaker is free to see the hidden worlds and bring them to life for us.

I am the mapmaker in my world.  At the edge of the shore is a vast sea that goes on and on.  There is no visible end to it.  And out upon the sea are various islands and landmasses, and on these islands and landmasses are all kinds of people from the most fantastic civilizations.  Some are beautiful and incredible.  Some are terrible and woeful.  Each one is a world unto itself, unaware of the other worlds and certainly unaware of us.  The mind can visit any civilization it wants to and gain the experience of the other world, providing it knows how to pass through the misty curtain.

This is what a traveler does.  And a traveler needs a map to get her from place to place and to record the unknown and make it known.  That’s what I do every day.  Out on those high seas, while navigating through some difficult situations in those worlds and especially in our own, I have often said, “Here be dragons!”

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